What Are the Laws Regarding Statutory Rape in Texas?
The age of consent is 17 in Texas. This means that, according to Texas law, individuals under 17 years of age are incapable of consenting to sex or sexual contact with an adult. The crime commonly referred to as “statutory rape” falls under the law prohibiting the sexual assault of a child in Texas. If you have been accused of sexual assault against someone under age 17, you could face serious, life-altering criminal consequences. It is essential to consult with a criminal defense attorney experienced in handling cases involving crimes against children as soon as possible.
What if the Sex Was “Consensual?”
Most people know that forcing someone to have sex against his or her will is wrong both ethically and legally. However, you may not realize that you can be charged with sexual assault against a child even if you did not force the alleged victim to participate in the sexual act. Because the age of consent is 17 in Texas, it is against the law for an adult to have sex with someone aged 16 years or younger, even if the underaged person did not object to the sexual activity. This is true even if the defendant did not know that the alleged victim was under age 17.
“Romeo and Juliet” Exception for Individuals Close in Age
There are certain exceptions to the law prohibiting the sexual assault of a child. An allowance nicknamed the “Romeo and Juliet” exception states that a person may avoid prosecution for sexual assault of a child if the alleged offender and victim are three or fewer years apart in age, and the alleged victim is at least 14 years old. For example, a high school senior who is 18 years old may have a girlfriend who is a 16-year-old sophomore. Because the two individuals are not more than three years apart, the senior would not be prosecuted for sexual assault against a child for having sexual intercourse with his girlfriend (unless certain illegal circumstances were present).
Contact a Fort Worth Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer
Texas law states that it is illegal for an adult to have sex with a child under age 17. Sexual assault of a child is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, the requirement to register as a sex offender, and a potential lifetime of stigma. If you are facing charges for sexual assault of a child or any other sex crime, you need an attorney who is skilled in defending against child-related criminal charges. Darlina Crowder has secured hundreds of acquittals and not guilty verdicts for her clients. Call The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. at 214-303-9600 for a free, confidential consultation with a Tarrant County criminal defense attorney.